Pairings/Characters: Tony/Bruce, Natasha Romanoff, Justin Hammer, Thor Odinson, Steve/Bucky, Clint/Phil
Continuity: The Avengers (2012)
Genres: Action/Adventure, AU, (A Touch Of Crack), Drama, Fairytale, Fluff, Humor, Romance
Summary: The Kingdom of Avengia is filled with adventure, pray tell. ;)
Date Of Completion: June 16, 2013
Date Of Posting: July 21, 2013
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2252
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for this prompt request at avengerkink.
In a land long ago,
Were fair knights
And fairer ladies
And with sword
Sir Arthur Malory
"The Legend Of Avengia"
Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Avengia, dwelled the best and the brightest. It was a happy and prosperous kingdom, though not without its troubles. The outer villages were threatened by a fierce creature, so the Iron Knight was dispatched to destroy it.
The Iron Knight clanked and rattled as he traversed the country roads. He was Lord Anthony of the House of Stark, a genius who built strange things and was rumored to speak to disembodied voices. He was also said to have no human heart, just one forged from steel and enchanted to keep him alive. He was said to have saved a sorcerer who had repaid him with the steel heart, but it only kept him alive. He was rude and uncaring and had no friends except for a prickly noblewoman who was amused by his brusqueness. His devoted chamberlain Jarvis despaired that he would ever find someone to rule the House of Stark with him when the time came.
The day was bright and warm and the Iron Knight spoke to a farmer, who directed him to the hills where the Green Ogre dwelled. The Iron Knight was ready.
He heard the roar of the creature long before he reached the hills. It sounded fearsome, to be sure, but the Iron Knight knew no fear.
He saw the ogre, a mighty creature with bulging muscles and a fierce expression. He was as green as a meadow after a heavy rain in May.
The creature roared and lumbered forward with surprising quickness. The Iron Knight took a great blow but delivered one as well. They fought, man and beast, and the birds in the trees flew away in fright. The ogre punched the Iron Knight and the knight fell heavily, certain that he was going to meet his doom.
He lay on his back on the hard ground in a dazed state, waiting for the killing blow. When it did not come, he opened his eyes and saw a naked man sprawled on the ground, the cloth pants of the ogre shredded around him. A groan came from the stranger.
Lord Anthony sat up with a groan of his own. “Who are you?”
The stranger sat up, his dark hair mussed. Anthony noticed the charming chest hair of the man. He unconsciously touched his own chest, the armor shielding his steel heart.
The ogre-turned-man smiled sweetly. “Your heart is glowing.”
“I have no…” Anthony looked down and was astonished to see the center of his chest glowing. The shape of a real heart could be seen in the center of the light. Anthony looked up at the other man in awe.
“I have a heart.”
“Of course you do.”
Anthony looked at the handsome nude man standing in front of him and his new heart fell in love.
“I love you,” he said to the handsome man.
The naked man’s smile grew ever brighter. “Then the enchantment is lifted forever.” He held out his hand and Anthony took it as they disappeared into the hills, Anthony’s steel-clad arm slung around his companion’s bare shoulders.
Meanwhile, in another part of the kingdom, a lady fair was out gathering nuts in May for Cook’s bread recipe. The scarf on her tall, conical hat fluttered in the breeze. She added a bunch of flowers to the basket she carried, enjoying the warm spring day.
She heard the pounding of hoofbeats on the road and looked up. A knight approached on a great steed.
“Hal and well met, my fair lady.”
“Hello, Sir Knight.”
“Such a lovely day.”
The Lady Natasha was intent on her flower-cutting but she realized that the knight was still here. Looking up, she shaded her eyes. “Do you need something, Sir Knight?”
“Actually, I am Lord Justin of the House of Hammer, and I require you, fair lady.”
And with that he swooped down and scooped Natasha up onto his horse. He set the horse into a gallop, leaving the basket of flowers and nuts abandoned in the grass.
“Put me down!”
“Not likely, fair maiden.”
Natasha squirmed and struggled but Lord Justin’s metal-clad grip was too strong. She quieted but began to rage and wiggle when they reached the House of Hammer.
“Please, Lady Natasha, settle down.” Justin carried the twisting woman as he clanked toward the castle. “That tower will be our home while I ransom you to your parents.”
“Like hell!” Natasha kicked and yelled.
“Tsk, tsk, such language from a lady.”
Natasha fumed as she was carried in bridal style up the stone steps to the tower. He deposited her none-too-gently on the bed.
“Quiet now, silly maid.”
She sprang up immediately and kicked him in the leg, toppling him over. He flailed his arms as he screeched. Natasha said with disdain, “Oh, be quiet.” She yanked the sword off his belt and fought her way down the tower stairs, defeating the Hammer guards with frightening ease. Once she reached the courtyard, she leaped atop Justin’s horse and galloped away from Hammer Castle.
Some time later, she slowed the horse to a trot and tensed as a rider approached from the opposite direction. As he came closer she saw that he wore shining silver armor on a steed of considerable height and girth.
“Hail, fair maiden!”
Natasha looked at the stranger with suspicion. Justin Hammer had appeared innocent at first, too.
“How are you this fine day?”
The knight’s booming voice was hearty. Natasha let her guard down a little.
“Are you all right?”
“Just fine, Sir…”
“Sir Thor, fair maiden. I come from a country far north of your venerable land.” He looked up at the sun. “Would you care to sup with me? ‘Tis almost midday.”
Natasha was far enough away from Hammer Castle, so she slid down from her heroes and followed Thor to sit beneath an apple tree.
Thor handed her a shiny red apple that he plucked from the tree and snagged one for himself. Removing his helmet, golden hair cascaded over his shoulders, which Natasha noticed with appreciation. He had slices of bread and cheese to share. They enjoyed their simple lunch as the birds sang and the breeze blew lightly.
“So you are seeking adventure in our great land?” Natasha asked as she drank water from his canteen.
“Aye. I am known as a great warrior.”
She cocked her head. “You seem unhappy at the idea.”
Thor sighted. “I would rather be performing Shakespeare in the park.”
“Shakespeare? Are you an actor?”
“I wish to be.” He cleared his throat. “’To be or not to be…’” The soliloquy was spoken with much flair as Thor gestured.
“You are quite good.”
“Thank you, fair lady.”
The sound of hoofbeats attracted their attention.
“Oh, no!” said Natasha.
“What is it?”
“Those pesky men from the Hammer Castle. They tried to kidnap me once.”
“Then they shall not succeed a second time!” Thor stood and drew his sword.
“Do you have another weapon, Sir Thor?” Natasha asked as she stood.
Surprise flickered across the blond’s face, then he grinned. “A Valkyrie at heart, eh?” He unsheathed a heavy broadsword from his saddle and tossed Natasha the lighter sword. She hefted it expertly and Thor was pleased at her expert handling as he said, “Be ready, m’lady!”
“Always, good knight.”
They entered the fray with Justin demanding that Natasha lay down her arms. She laughed and fought all the harder.
A knight and squire galloped down the road. Seeing Thor and Natasha outnumbered, they joined on their side. They fought well and in tandem, anticipating each other’s moves. The knight was a fine swordsman but used his shield with even more skill, throwing it at his opponents and knocking them out. Its round shape brought it back to his gauntleted hand.
The battle was swift and just, the Hammer contingent soundly defeated. They lay insensate on the ground. Thor and Natasha began to thank the newcomers when the knight began to wheeze as he clutched at his chest. He slid off his horse and staggered to a tree, removing his helmet.
His squire ran to him and removed his friend’s breastplate, rubbing his back as the blond knight fought for breath.
“It will pass. Just ride it out,” soothed the squire.
Thor and Natasha remained quiet but close by. The struggle for breath was painful to watch and hear.
Finally the ailing knight was able to breathe again and the squire helped him sit back against the tree.
“You are brave to be a knight despite such attacks,” said Thor.
“Th…thank you.” The knight smiled wanly. “I am Sir Steven of the Queen’s Court.”
“Ah, the famed knight of the Great European War. I am honored to meet you.”
“And I am honored to meet you. You are Sir Thor of Asgardia, are you not?”
“Very much so.” Thor bowed. “And this is the Lady Natasha.”
“This is my squire, Bucky.”
Bucky was still rubbing Steven’s back, Natasha observed. She smiled. Always interesting to see love on display.
“I may have something to help you,” Thor said. He walked to his horse and searched through his saddlebag, returning with a glass vial. The contents were a beautiful sparkling blue. “My brother is a practitioner of the healing arts. This is a draught to be taken whenever you feel the attack coming on.”
“Thank you, Sir Thor.” Steve reached out a shaky hand to take the vial.
“Now, let us away from here and seek further adventure,” said Thor cheerfully.
Natasha looked at him thoughtfully.
Philip walked along the castle corridor, intent on his rolls of parchment. He never saw the arrow that whizzed through the air and pinned his chamberlain’s tunic to the tapestry on the wall.
“Barton!!!” Philip wrenched the arrow out of the tunic material and shook it at the dark corridor branching off from the main hall. “I know you are there!”
Laughter drifted from the dark recesses. Philip shook his head. The Queen’s Archer was a trickster, to be sure. He was also the best archer in the Royal Army.
“What I do for Her Majesty,” Philip grumbled.
He continued down the hall and walked down the grand staircase to the foyer. Candles would be lit in the chandeliers once dusk fell, but it was still bright day. Philip went outside for some fresh air.
He would have to see how the pictures with Sir Steven’s likeness were coming along. The miniatures would sell well. The knight was the most popular in the land.
Another arrow whizzed by his ear. He whirled. There was nobody behind him. He looked up.
“Get down here, Barton!”
The archer laughed and slid down a rope that dangled from the parapet. Gloves protected his hands and Philip could smell the distinctiveness of leather as the young archer smirked.
“What is the matter, Chamberlain? My arrows getting too close?”
Philip smoothed his hair. “Close cuts, I would say.”
Clinton laughed. “Such a fine head of hair.”
Philip’s eyes widened slightly. “Are you courting me, Archer?”
“Mayhaps.” Clinton’s eyes sparkled.
Philip thought about it, then smiled. “Let us enjoy the courtship, then.”
Clinton leaned forward and kissed him as the guards on the parapet whooped and applauded.
Twilight cast a violet-and-indigo glow dusted with stars over the people gathered in the park. The benches were arranged like an ancient amphitheater and faced a stage with a red curtain stretched across it.
In the front row sat the Lady Natasha, Sir Steven and Bucky. Natasha waved to a handsome bearded man who strolled down the aisle, followed by a smiling man with curly dark hair.
“Sit with us, Friend Tony,” she invited.
“Thank you.” Anthony sat down next to Natasha. “This is Bruce from the thistle lands.”
Natasha introduced Steve and Bucky. She adjusted her green silk cap and said, “Glad to see you here, m’lord.”
“I always enjoy good entertainment.”
Natasha nearly said, “With a good cup of mead, no doubt,” but refrained. Her old friend seemed remarkably sober and remarkably cheerful. “There is something different about you.”
Anthony made a fist and gently bumped his chest. “I am just a happy man.”
“So I see.” Natasha glanced at the shy Bruce. Her terse, abrupt friend now seemed positively loquacious. “”For the better.”
Steven spotted someone he knew in the crowd. “Philip! Over here!”
Philip headed for Steven with a handsome young man in tow, Natasha noticed. Both were dressed in fine clothes, though not as rich as nobility. Steven happily introduced them as Chamberlain Philip Coulson and Archer Clinton Barton. There was still room on the bench and the two men sat next to each other at the end of the row.
Anthony bought everyone fried dough and sausages-on-a-stick from the vendors, along with cups of wine.
A hush fell over the crowd as the curtains were drawn back on the stage and revealed a simple set with a painted backdrop. Thor came striding out and began an impassioned speech, “’To be or not to be…’”
“Doth his mother know he plays Shakespeare in the park?” asked Anthony with a characteristic smirk.
And so the kingdom of Avengia was happy and prosperous, home of the best and the brightest.